Alec Kincaid's partner Daniel gets his
turn in THE REUNION MISSION, when Alec and Daniel
team up to free the daughter of a U.S. Senator, and the
woman who broke Daniel's heart five years earlier, from
a prison camp in the Colombian jungle.
Protect me, baby...
it's been five years since Black Ops
agent Daniel LeCroix last saw Nicole
White, his desire for her burns as
strong as ever. But he's got to stay
focused on his mission-rescue Nicole
and an innocent child from a
Colombian prison camp.
Nicole is shocked to see Daniel
again. She still has feelings for
him, but hasn't forgotten his
betrayal. When danger finds her
again, Daniel places her in a safe
house. Sharing such close quarters,
Nicole and Daniel must confront the
past-and a passion that won't be
good book. The suspense was great,
also..." -- Susan,
"Left perimeter clear." Shifting his night vision goggles,
Daniel LeCroix peered through the inky blankness of the
Colombian jungle, his body humming and ready for action.
He focused on the large tent at the far end of the rebel
encampment. No sign of the soldiers who slept in the
canvas shelter. Lowering the night vision goggles, he
cast a glance to his partner, who monitored the camp
through an infrared imaging camera. "What do you have?"
Months of preparation had led to this moment. With
their objective moments from fruition, he'd be damned if
he'd let anything screw up their mission now.
movement," Alec Kincaid confirmed. "Looks like the
guards watching the ammo are the only ones awake." Alec
stowed the infrared imager in his pack and slid his NVGs
into place. "Ready to move?"
Adrenaline spiked in
Daniel's blood, readying him for battle. "Hell, yeah.
Silently, he and Alec dropped from the
tree where they'd been perched for hours, watching the
faction of rebel soldiers who held several captives in
the remote camp. Only one of the prisoners interested
Nicole White. A U.S. senator's daughter
kidnapped from the medical mission where she was working
and held as a political pawn.
Freeing her and
returning her safely to the United States was their sole
Leading with his sidearm,
Daniel crept down the steep, vegetation-dense hillside
to the clearing in the narrow Colombian valley where
Nicole had been held for close to thirteen months.
Would she recognize him, remember him?
shoved down the jangle of anticipation that skittered
through him when he thought of seeing Nicole again.
Touching her. He had to stay focused on his job if they
were to get out of that jungle alive.
reached the crude wire fence at the edge of the camp,
Alec pulled a pair of wire cutters from his pack and
quickly created a hole large enough for them to crawl
through on their bellies. Daniel wiggled through first,
then Alec. Using hand signals, Daniel directed Alec to
the right. Daniel walked backward, following Alec and
guarding their six. Keeping to the shadows, they made
their way toward the back of the camp where Nicole was
As they rounded the tent where they'd
determined supplies were kept, Alec stopped abruptly. He
pointed to the guard stationed at the entrance of the
I've got this one, Alec
signaled, then soundlessly dispatched the man before the
guard even knew he had company.
Behind them, a
squeak drew Daniel's attention. The door to the
ramshackle latrine by the perimeter fence opened, and a
soldier stepped out, shining a flashlight toward the
When the beam passed over Alec, Daniel
tensed. Just as the man swung the light back and opened
his mouth to shout a warning to the camp, Daniel fired a
single head shot, and the soldier crumpled. Despite the
silencer muffling the gun's noise, Daniel knew someone
could have heard the telltale pop. They had to hurry.
By unspoken agreement, Alec set a faster pace toward
the fenced area where Nicole was being held. Farther
down, they encountered two more guards, playing a game
with dice as they monitored the cache of arms stacked in
crates under a tarp. Skulking through the night like
panthers, Alec and Daniel snuck up on the duo and took
them out, as well.
keeping watch, Daniel hurried to the fenced area where
the rebels held their captives. The cages holding the
prisoners were little more than dog pens, and two
teepeed sheets of rotting plywood provided Nicole's only
protection from the elements. Rage flashed through
Daniel seeing the squalid conditions in which Nicole had
been forced to live. Gritting his teeth, he funneled his
fury into cutting through the fencing of her cage, then
crawled to the tented plywood where she slept.
She wasn't alone. Daniel frowned but dismissed the small
form huddled beside her. His mandate was clear. Nicole
was his only objective.
Shifting his attention,
Daniel held his breath as he caught his first up-close
glimpse of Nicole in five years. Her long slender legs
and feet were bare. Dirty cargo shorts and a sleeveless
T-shirt hugged her womanly curves, and the fetal
position in which she slept heightened his sense of her
vulnerability. Her arms pillowed her head, and her
tangled blond hair spilled over her cheek. Even
disheveled and grimy, she was still every bit as
beautiful as he remembered.
performed a tuck and roll, and he allowed himself the
briefest moment just to look at her and thank God she
appeared unharmed. But even a few seconds of delay were
an indulgence, and he steeled himself for the task
ahead. It was go time.
Five years earlier
Daniel stood at attention, watching the parade of
national and state dignitaries dressed in their best
black-tie finery make their way into the governor's
Mardi Gras ball. His buddies at the New Orleans Naval
Air Station thought he was crazy for volunteering to
work security for the ball. But when he'd heard that
Louisiana Senator Alan White would be attending, he'd
known he couldn't be anywhere else that night.
Daniel had prepped his Navy dress whites for the event,
counting on the other rumor he'd heard to be true—since
his wife's death last year, Senator White had brought
his daughter, Nicole, as his companion to public events
such as this.
Even as he conjured a memory of the
last time he'd seen Nicole, a limo flying American flags
from the antennae pulled up to the front drive of the
antebellum mansion where the ball was underway. Daniel
held his breath as Senator White emerged from the
backseat, then turned to offer his hand to someone
inside the limo. A chill filled the air that February
evening, but the weather had nothing to do with the
tremor that rolled through Daniel as a graceful young
blonde woman stepped out onto the driveway. An ice-blue
chiffon gown hugged her curves, and she molded her mouth
into a stiff smile as she started toward the stairs on
the senator's arm. Jeweled combs winked in the porch
lights and held her long hair swept up in a twist,
exposing the slim column of her neck.
tracked her progress with his gaze as she approached,
his mouth dry and his gut in knots. With her hand tucked
in the crook of her father's arm, Nicole cast a
surveying glance to the other partygoers, issuing
perfunctory greetings. The politician's daughter,
groomed in social graces and good public relations.
American nobility, so far out of his league Daniel had
to squelch the urge to laugh in bitter irony at the
lengths he'd gone to tonight just for a chance to see
her again. His studious gaze caught her attention, and
Daniel flashed her a lopsided grin. "Hello, Nicole."
Her steps faltered, and a look of confusion dented
her brow. "Do I—?"
Daniel blew out a deep breath.
He'd been crazy to think she'd remember him after so
But then her face brightened, and she
pulled her arm free of her father's to step closer to
His heart kicked up a zydeco
beat as she seized his hand and squeezed his fingers.
"Boudreaux? Is that you?"
He grimaced mentally.
As much as he'd wanted her to remember him, her use of
the derogatory nickname her friends had given him didn't
bode well for what she remembered about him. He
tugged his mouth into an awkward smile. "Yeah, it's me."
Delight lit her eyes and brightened her grin, and
hope stirred in his chest.
"Oh, my God! Look at
you!" She canted forward, circling his shoulders with
her arms and pressing a social kiss to his cheek.
Stunned by her hug, he was a beat too slow returning
the embrace, and his brain snagged when the sweet floral
scent of her hair hit him. His body's reaction to her
touch, her scent was immediate and carnal.
holding the sleeves of his dress whites jacket, she
levered back and let her gaze take in the length of him.
"I almost didn't recognize you in this impressive
attire." She flashed a flirtatious grin and tugged at
the breast of his jacket.
"Good Lord, everything
they say about a man in uniform is true!"
rallied his senses, determined not to come off as a
flustered sap and to preserve the dignity his uniform
required. "You look beautiful, too."
Understatement. She was breathtaking. He'd thought so
five years ago on her prom night, when he'd been his
cousin's date and met Nicole for the first time.
"Nicole!" Senator White had backtracked to fetch his
wayward daughter, not quite managing to hide his
irritation. "What's going on?"
Had she been
hugging the son of one of his golf buddies rather than a
security guard, the senator wouldn't have been nearly so
piqued, Daniel wagered.
Nicole extended a hand to
her father, waving him closer. "Daddy, I want you to
meet someone. This is—" She hesitated, cutting an
embarrassed look to Daniel.
"Daniel LeCroix," he
finished, offering his hand to the senator before she
defaulted to the nickname that mocked his bayou roots.
She twitched her lips in an apologetic grin.
"Daniel. Of course! Forgive me. I'm just awful with
Her father arched an eyebrow and heaved a
sigh. "To my chagrin. She once called the chairman of
armed services by his predecessor's name."
Folding Daniel's free hand between her hands, she faced
her father again. "Daniel is the boy who brought me home
from prom my junior year." When her father's expression
remained blank, she added pointedly, "He's the one who
rescued Boudreaux from the storm drain for me!"
Adrenaline kicked Daniel's pulse, and he jerked a
startled glance toward her. Boudreaux? She'd
named the kitten—?
Nicole met his questioning
look with a secret smile. "What else would I name him?"
"Ah, yes. Your cat. I remember now. Well, it's nice
to meet you, Daniel." The senator offered Nicole his
arm, and his raised eyebrows, warning her it was time to
go inside. "Nicole, this young man has a job to do, and
our hosts are waiting."
Facing Daniel, she
squeezed his hand and gave him a lopsided smile of
regret. "It was wonderful seeing you again, Daniel."
He returned a polite smile. Don't leave.
"You, too, Nicole." Then to the senator, "Sir."
The senator met his gaze with a hard look that darted to
Daniel's rank insignia on his uniform. "Lieutenant."
The senator's tone carried a warning, a reminder of
Daniel's place and the social gap between a boy from the
bayou and the senator's well-bred daughter. As if Daniel
needed reminding. Though he was proud of his Cajun
roots, he was always striving to be better than the next
guy—at basic training, in the classroom, in
operations—trying to prove his detractors wrong,
silencing those who singled him out or who bought into
erroneous stereotypes regarding his heritage.
Nicole squeezed his hand before she released it and
flashed a rueful smile as her father grasped her elbow
and led her inside.
With a cleansing breath, he
resumed his watch, shoulders back and hands clasped
behind him. Though he stood at rigid attention, his mind
writhed with a tangle of emotions.
accomplished what he'd set out to do tonight. He'd seen
Nicole again. But, in light of the tumult inside him,
coming tonight might have been a mistake.
needed air. Shoving her way through the crowded dance
floor, she hurried to the front porch and gripped the
railing as another shudder of disgust rippled through
her. All evening she'd put up with the leering glances
her father seemed not to notice, but when the president
of the Chamber of Commerce squeezed her bottom on the
dance floor, she'd had enough. She'd bet her father's
fortune that his "friends" never treated her mother with
Thoughts of her mother, stolen
from her by cancer just four months ago, brought
moisture to Nicole's eyes. She cast a longing gaze
toward the parked cars, wishing she didn't have to
endure the party any longer, and she spotted the white
dress uniform and broad shoulders that had sent her
pulse racing earlier that evening.
ghosted across her lips. Daniel LeCroix. She wasn't
surprised he'd joined the armed forces. Even in her
brief association with him on prom night five years ago,
she'd seen his valor, his kindness, his integrity. When
her date hadn't deigned to get his hands dirty to
retrieve the stranded kitten, when her friends had all
abandoned her for "wasting time" on the rescue, only
Daniel had stayed behind to help her instead of going to
the dance. Daniel had ruined his rented tux moving the
sewer grate and climbing into the drainage pipes, then
had walked her and her new pet home. And left an
indelible mark on her heart.
Nicole couldn't help
but wonder how different tonight would have
been if he'd been her escort instead of her father.
The night's not over. Her breath stilled.
Ditching her father in favor of Daniel would be waving a
red flag in her father's face. He'd never forgive her
for the snub and the damage to his well-crafted public
But had her father respected her feelings
when she'd complained about his friends' untoward
advances? A flash of anger spiraled through her. How
long was she supposed to put her life on hold to be her
father's PR darling? She was already a year behind her
class in nursing school because of his last election
campaign and months of filling her mother's shoes as his
companion at high-profile events and parties. As much as
she loved her father, she just didn't want the
high-society lifestyle he thrived on.
orchestra began playing the ballad from a popular Andrew
Lloyd Webber musical, and Nicole sighed. Fixing her gaze
on Daniel, she crossed the porch and approached him.
"Dance with me?"
He cut a startled glance her
direction. "Nicole." His gaze shifted behind her,
obviously noting that she was alone. "Why aren't you
"I needed a breather. Too much hot air
in there." She twitched a grin and hitched her head
toward the party. Stepping closer to him, she held out
her hand. "So will you dance with me? This is one of my
His gaze locked on hers, his
regret obvious. "I can't. I'm on duty."
close enough to slide her hand along the polished
buttons of his dress whites. She could feel the strong,
steady beat of his heart beneath her fingers, and the
life-affirming cadence struck her as powerfully virile
and maddeningly sexy. "Just one dance. No one will know
or care if you just danced this one song with me." She
slid her arms around his neck and twined her fingers in
the close-cropped hair at his nape. "Please."
Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.